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Venerable Savva the Sanctified
Venerable Savva the Sanctified

Saint Savva the Sanctified was born in the fifth century at Cappadocia of pious Christian parents, John and Sophia, and his father was a military commander. Journeying to Alexandria on military matters, John and Sophia left their five-year-old son Savva in the care of an uncle. When the boy was…

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Saint Gurias, Archbishop of Kazan
Saint Gurias, Archbishop of Kazan

Saint Gurias, Archbishop of Kazan, (in the world Gregory Rugotin), was the first archbishop of the Kazan diocese, established in 1555. He was born in the town of Radonezh outside Moscow into the family of a courtier. His parents were not wealthy, and so from his early years he had to serve Prince…

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Martyr Anastasius the Fuller of Salona in Dalmatia

The Martyr Anastasius the Fuller lived at Salona in Dalmatia during the third century. He was arrested and brought to trial because of his missionary activity in Salona. Saint Anastasius, boldly and without fear, confessed Christ as the true God and Creator of all. He even painted a cross on his…

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Venerable Karion (Cyrion) and his son, Venerable Zachariah, of Egypt

Saint Karion lived in Scetis in Egypt during the fourth century. He became a monk and left his wife and two children behind in the world. When a famine struck Egypt, Saint Karion’s wife brought the children to the monastery and complained of their poverty and difficulties. The saint took his…

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Venerable Nectarius of Bitolya and Mount Athos

Saint Nectarius of Mount Athos was raised by his father, who became a monk at the monastery of the holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian in Bitolya (Bulgaria). He himself was tonsured on Mount Athos, and performed his obedience under experienced spiritual guides, Saint Philotheus and the Elder…

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Venerable Philotheus of Karyes, Mount Athos

Saint Philotheus of Karyes lived an ascetic life on Athos in the cell of Iagari near Karyes. He was the Spiritual Father of Saint Nectarius. Because of the purity of his life, he was granted the gift of clairvoyance.

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Monastic Martyrs of Karyes

The Holy Monastic Martyrs of Karyes were martyred by the Latins who came with fire and sword onto Mount Athos during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Michael Paleologos (1259-1282), an apostate from Orthodoxy. Bursting in upon the Karyes monastery, the Latins burned and devastated the Church of…

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Saint Crispina

Saint Crispina lived at Thacora (Tagora) in Africa, and was arrested for professing Christianity. The proconsul Annius Anullinus presided at her trial at Theveste (or Tebessa) in December of 304. Anullinus asked her if she was aware that she was required by law to offer sacrifice to the gods for…

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The Prologue
December 5th

1. The Venerable Sava The Sanctified.

The unknown village of Mutalaska, in the province of Cappadocia, became famous through this great luminary of the Orthodox Church. Sava was born there of his parents John and Sophia. At the age of eight, he left the home of his parents and was tonsured a monk in a nearby monastic community called Flavian's. After ten years, he moved to the monasteries of Palestine and remained longest in the Monastery of St. Euthymius the Great (January 20) and Theoctistus. The clairvoyant Euthymius prophesied of Sava that he would become a famous monk and a teacher of monks and that he would establish a lavra greater than all the lavras of that time. After the death of Euthymius, Sava withdrew to the desert, where he lived for five years as a hermit in a cave shown to him by an angel of God. Afterward, when he had been perfected in the monastic life, he began by divine providence to gather around him many who were desirous of the spiritual life. Soon, such a large number gathered that Sava had to build a church and many cells. Some Armenians also came to him, and for them he provided a cave where they would be able to celebrate services in the Armenian language. When his father died, his aged mother Sophia came to him, and he tonsured her a nun. He gave her a cell located at a distance from his monastery, where she lived a life of asceticism until her death. This holy father endured many assaults from all sides: from those who were close to him, from heretics, and from demons. But he triumphed over them all: those close to him, by kindness and indulgence; the heretics, by his unwavering confession of the Orthodox Faith; the demons, by the sign of the Cross and calling upon God for help. He had a particularly great struggle with demons on Mount Castellium, where he established his second monastery. In all, Sava established seven monasteries. He and Theodosius the Great, his neighbor, are considered to be the greatest lights and pillars of Orthodoxy in the East. They corrected emperors and patriarchs in matters of the Faith, and to everyone they served as an example of saintly humility and the miraculous power of God. After a toilsome and very fruitful life, St. Sava entered into rest in the year 532 A.D., at the age of ninety-four. Among his many wondrous and good works, let it at least be mentioned that he was the first to compile the Order of Services for use in monasteries, now known as the Jerusalem Typicon.

2. The Venerable Martyrs Of Karyes.

They suffered at the hands of the Papists at the time of the Union of Lyons [1274], which was the work of Emperor Michael Palaeologus (1260-1281) and the pope. The Protos of the Holy Mountain was hanged, and the others were beheaded. (For details about this, see October 10.)

3. The Venerable Nectarius Of Bitola.

Nectarius was born in Bitola and lived a life of asceticism in the Monastery of the Holy Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian, together with his father, Pachomius, who was also tonsured. After that he went to Karyes, where he continued his asceticism in the Cell of the Holy Archangels under the guidance of Elders Philotheus and Dionysius. After conquering human envy, demonic assaults and difficult illnesses, he entered into rest in the Kingdom of Christ on December 5, 1500 A.D. His incorrupt and fragrant relics rest in this same cell.

4. The Venerable Karion And Zacharias.

Karion and Zacharias were father and son, and both were great Egyptian ascetics. Karion left his wife and two children and set off to become a monk. As a child, the young Zacharias was taken into the monastery, and in his ascetic labors he surpassed both his father and many other notable ascetics. When they asked Zacharias, "Who is a true monk?" he replied: "He who constantly applies himself to the fulfilling of God's commandments."

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